Four years ago I weighed 210 pounds, the heaviest I have been in my entire life.
I was only a sophomore in high school, and looking back at pictures of that time always shocks me. Was I really that big?
My parents tried to keep me active since I was very young. When I was four years old, I went to swimming classes at the YMCA across the street from my house. Years later, I grew afraid of the pool, and I threw tantrums right before my classes. That was the end of swimming. Karate followed. I hated it.
Then came basketball. I was not good, but I kept at it for about two years and went to basketball camp for two summers in high school. I also played soccer for a while, but then the YMCA stopped running its soccer program.
In the end, my parents gave up and decided to stop wasting their money on hopeless attempts to get me active.
At my semi-annual check-ups, my pediatrician would always warn me that by the time I got to college, I would have a serious problem controlling and losing my weight. I ignored her spiels about where I would land on the BMI chart, getting at least one hour of physical activity every day and eating healthy food.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school. After graduation, I had nothing to do except wait for the first day of college. So I ended up going back to the YMCA swimming pool I was so afraid of as a kid and began swimming laps for an hour a day. This eventually became routine. Soon, I was jogging before I went to the pool. By the end of July, I was swimming two hours a day. I eliminated everything that I considered junk food from my diet and drastically cut my meal portions.
By the end of that summer, I weighed 150 pounds. I entered Fordham about 50 pounds lighter than I was when I finished high school.
Of course, no one at Fordham could tell, but neighbors, friends and former classmates and teachers could.
They were shocked and concerned. They could not believe the transformation I underwent.
I was confused. I thought that if I lost the weight, people would be glad I made a lifestyle change. Instead, I was asked if I was okay, sick, still eating or dying. What did I do wrong?
I got my answer when I watched “The Biggest Loser” season finale last February, when winner Rachel Frederickson stepped out from behind the curtain and revealed her new 105 pound body. She dropped 60 percent of her body weight, looked very thin and scared the dumbbells out of trainers Bob Harber and Jillian Michaels.
There is a chance that I, like Rachel, took the weight loss a little too far. However, I think we both lost the amount of weight we did because we feared returning to the weight that had been holding us back for years. The further we got from that dreaded weight, the harder it would be to gain it back.
People who have not tried to lose weight do not understand how much work it takes. There is physical and mental strain during this process. I got frustrated with myself when, after almost two months of jogging and swimming, I was not seeing any results that indicated weight loss. But I told myself to keep going because I had gone too far to stop. I am glad I did.
It was unfair for the public to criticize Rachel for her weight loss. She was only trying to do what she thought was best for her.
Rachel made headlines again last week, this time to announce she is at her “perfect weight.” She has gained 20 pounds back since the season finale and looks healthier.
I, too, have gained some weight back and look “healthier” to people who thought I was not a year ago. I continue to watch what and how much I eat and try to get as much physical activity as possible. One of my high school teachers once told me that it is all a matter of balance, and he is right.
Do not criticize people who lose weight. Be supportive and proud of their accomplishments. I guarantee they have come a long way, and all they need is a little recognition for their hard work.
Andrew Santis, GSB ’16, is a business administration major from Flushing, N.Y.